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NASA postpones Discovery launch to mid-December

Technicians spray foam insulation on a section of repaired stringers on space shuttle Discovery's external fuel tank. A NASA photo

CAPE CANAVERAL, FLORIDA (AP): NASA is looking at another launch delay for space shuttle Discovery that could push the mission into Christmas.

Mission managers were meeting Wednesday to review repairs made to Discovery since a November 5 launch attempt. Hydrogen gas leaks halted the countdown. Unrelated cracks later were found on the fuel tank.

NASA wants to understand the cracking before launching Discovery to the International Space Station one last time.

The space agency had been working toward a December 3 liftoff for the 11-day mission. But that's no longer feasible.

Discovery's next launch window opens December 17, after a new station crew lifts off from Kazakhstan. If the shuttle isn't flying by year's end, it will remain grounded until February.


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